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Buffalo Common Council approves amended budget: No user fee increase, property tax increase reduced

The Buffalo Common Council approved an amended city budget Friday during a special meeting, just days before their May 22 deadline.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Buffalo Common Council approved an amended city budget Friday during a special meeting, days before their May 22 deadline.

Emotions were high among the council members following the tragedy at Tops on Jefferson Avenue nearly a week ago. At one point, Council President Darius Pridgen needed a moment to collect himself.

The amended budget slashes several proposals presented by Mayor Byron Brown including a 4.53% property tax increase that the Mayor was lambasted for after criticizing the idea on the campaign trail. Brown said the proposed tax increase would have generated over $6.6 million in annual additional revenue for the city.

The common council opted for a 3.5% increase in their amended budget.

The council also eliminated a proposed user fee increase for trash removal and other services after neighbors expressed concern about the "doubling up" of a tax increase and fee increase amid rising inflation.

"We went line by line we were thoughtful we were responsible and we were able to come together to procure amendments," said Fillmore District Council Member Mitch Nowakowski.

Additional amendments included the elimination of a city-funded 'ShotSpotter' program which was expected to cost around $250,000. Vacant positions citywide were also eliminated as a compromise for keeping funding for innovation initiatives said Council President Darius Pridgen.

Pridgen said year over year the eliminated jobs will save the city $420,000.

"They didn't want a user fee we eliminated the increase in the user fee, they didn't want huge pay raises at a time when people are struggling," said North District Council Member Joe Golombeck.

The final amendment called for a flat 5.5% raise for all city workers instead of a proposal by the Mayor that would have meant higher raises for top officials. This change reduces the budget by $750,000.

“This year’s budget is a win for the residents of our city. Not only will it make critical investments to enhance and improve the services people rely on, but it also places the city on a sound fiscal footing that will be the foundation for a stronger economic and fiscal outlook,” Mayor Brown said in a statement Friday.

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